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Compare Refinance Rates for March 2020
Use our national survey of lenders to find the right refinance rate for you.
Today's Mortgage and Refinance Rates
Lenders nationwide provide weekday mortgage rates to our comprehensive national survey to bring you the most current rates available. Here you can see the latest marketplace average rates for a wide variety of purchase loans. The interest rate table below is updated daily to give you the most current purchase rates when choosing a home loan.
On March 27, 2020, according to Bankrate’s latest survey of the nation’s largest refinance lenders, the benchmark 30-year fixed refinance rate is 3.880 percent with an APR of 3.940 percent. The average 15-year fixed refinance rate is 3.360 percent with an APR of 3.430 percent. The 5/1 adjustable-rate refinance (ARM) rate is 3.550 percent with an APR of 3.990 percent.
The Federal Reserve and refinance rates
The Federal Reserve’s interest rate decisions don’t directly impact refinance rates. Long-term rates, such as 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, are more closely tied to the 10-year Treasury yield.
There’s little correlation between the Fed’s rate decisions and refinance rates. For example, when the Fed raised rates four times in 2018, mortgage refinance rates decreased in the latter part of the year.
However, the Fed and Treasury yields are loosely influenced by similar market forces. “While not directly related to a Fed cut, the two are sort of a reflection of the same concern: the expectation that the economy is going to slow,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst.”
A mortgage refinance allows borrowers to pay off and replace an existing mortgage with a new
loan and refinance rate. The reasons for refinancing, also known as a “refi,” vary: It can be
used to lower your mortgage rate, reduce monthly payments or even switch your loan type. Some homeowners take out cash from their equity built up in the house during this process, known as a cash-out refi.
Are mortgage refinance rates different than mortgage purchase rates?
Yes, the rates can be different. Mortgage refinance rates are usually slightly higher than mortgage purchase rates, says Martin Choy, operations manager at Westwood Mortgage in Seattle. One reason for this is that refinancers are more likely to abandon their application when rates fall during the processing of the loan, imposing higher costs on the lenders.
Another reason that refinance rates might be slightly higher is that lenders are trying to manage their volume during refinance booms, says Rick Bechtel, head of U.S. residential lending at TD Bank.
“When speaking with a lender, borrowers should be clear that they are in the market for a refinance. An interest rate quoted on a lender's website is likely the rate for a home purchase, not a refinance,” Bechtel says.
Is refinancing available for FHA, VA, jumbo or USDA loans?
It is possible to refinance FHA, VA, jumbo and USDA loans. Be sure to talk with your lender about their requirements. For FHA borrowers who have expensive insurance premiums, for example, refinancing into a conventional mortgage could be a significant cost savings, says Beck.
“VA borrowers don’t have insurance on their mortgages and they often borrow 100 percent, so refinancing only makes sense if they have the loan-to-value and they can get a lower rate,” says Kathleen Beck, mortgage lender at West Coast Mortgage Group in Sacramento, California.
Borrowers who hold jumbo loans often benefit the most from refinancing. The higher the loan amount, the greater the potential savings.
“It's common for jumbo loan borrowers to refinance their mortgage several times over the lifetime of their loan, because even a small drop in interest rates can add up to significant savings over time,” says Bechtel.
Typically, borrowers need a loan-to-value ratio, or LTV, of 80 percent. Borrowers can calculate their LTV by dividing how much they owe on the home by its current value.
Are there closing costs for refinancing?
Yes, there are closing costs for refinancing your mortgage. These costs average between 3 and 6 percent of your loan amount. Closing costs are made up of many fees, including lender fees (such as underwriting and application costs) and third-party fees (these might include property taxes, title insurance and home appraisals).
Borrowers might be able to negotiate certain costs, such as the application fee. But, Choy says, things like underwriting fees are part of doing business so lenders are less likely to reduce that cost.
“Even with ‘no-origination’ fee mortgages, the borrower is paying for the lender’s cost in some way. They usually roll it into the rate, so your interest rate might be higher than a lender who charges an upfront origination fee,” Choy says.
Is it possible to refinance to a different loan type?
It is possible to refinance your existing loan into a different type of loan. For example, you can refinance an adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM, into a conventional mortgage. Make sure that the new loan type makes sense for your bottom line and budget. You can also change the term of the loan, say from 30 years to 15 years.
Are refinance rates negotiable?
Refinance rates are not negotiable. These rates are standardized, so borrowers can’t negotiate rates down. However, borrowers with better credit scores or larger down payments, will usually get lower rates. Borrowers can also buy “mortgage points,” Choy points out, which is an upfront fee that is used to lower the interest rate. And of course you can and should shop various lenders to get the best rate.
“While the rate itself is not negotiable, a borrower should discuss their options with a knowledgeable loan officer to determine if adjustments to their loan term or their personal financial situation could help them secure a lower interest rate,” Bechtel says.
When should you refinance?
You should consider refinancing in these cases:
Reduce your interest rate: When interest rates fall, you might be able to lock in a lower rate via refinancing and save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Talk to your lender about fees and the rate you qualify for to see if this makes sense for your financial goals.
Tap into your home’s equity: For equity-rich homeowners who need low-interest cash for home improvements or even emergencies, cash-out refinancing can be a good option. But make sure you can get the same or a lower interest rate than you currently have, otherwise you’ll end up making your mortgage more expensive.
Shorten your loan term: Shortening your loan term is a strategy for borrowers who want to get out of mortgage debt faster as well as pay less interest over the life of their loan.
Switch mortgage types: Depending on the type of mortgage you have, refinancing into a different type of home loan might be an advantage. One example is going from an adjustable rate (ARM) to a fixed-rate mortgage, which locks in your rate so you’re not exposed to market fluctuations.
Get rid of PMI: Once your loan-to-value, LTV, reaches 20 percent, you can ask your lender to get rid of PMI, private mortgage insurance. Another option, which makes sense if you stand to lower your interest rate, is to refinance your mortgage. This will both wipe away PMI and give you a lower rate.
When refinancing may not make sense:
Refinancing into a longer term: Folks who only have 10 or 15 years left on their mortgage might not want to refinance back into a 30-year loan, which will extend their interest payments and end up costing them more.
Closing costs outweigh the savings: If your closing costs are higher than what you stand to save and you can’t recoup that in a year or two, then refinancing might not be the best option.
Consolidating debt: Using a cash-out refinance to consolidate debt can be a good strategy (this is because cash-out refis typically have lower interest rates than credit cards), unless you end up racking up more debt later.
Spending equity to float lifestyle: Many experts warn against using your home equity as an ATM machine. Resist the temptation of tapping your equity for vacations and other non-essential spending.
How to refinance
Refinancing a mortgage is much like applying for one. To start, you should shop around for lenders with the lowest fees and best rates. Lenders might ask for a home appraisal. You’ll also have to go through a credit check and verify employment history.
To get the best refinance rate possible, make sure your credit score is strong. Borrowers with a FICO score of 740 and above are going to get the best rate, says Beck.
“For people with high balances, try to pay down your credit cards to one-third of the limit. This will pump up your score pretty fast,” Beck says.
A step by step guide to refinancing
Crunch the numbers: Does it make financial sense to refinance? How long will it take to recoup closing costs? Are there better options?
Check your credit report: Your credit score has the biggest influence on the rate you’ll qualify for, so make sure there are no errors on your report. Similarly, pay down debt, if needed, to boost your score.
Comparison shop lenders: Ask for various lenders’ rate sheets so you can see about how much you’ll spend with each lender.
Lock in your rate: A mortgage rate lock means that the lender agrees to honor the current rate (even if rates rise) throughout the closing process.
Close on the mortgage refinance: This is the final step in the process. But, make sure your credit has not taken a hit during the time you applied and closing as it can affect your loan. Throughout the process, don’t open new lines of credit and be sure to make on-time payments on all your bills.
What documents do I need for a refinance?
When you apply for a mortgage (a new purchase or a refinance), lenders need some documentation about your finances to make their decision. You’ll likely need to provide:
Copy of latest mortgage statement that shows your mortgage balance
Copy of property appraisal report from the property appraiser (the lender typically hires the appraisal company)
Proof of income, including the previous year’s W-2 and federal tax return, as well as your most recent pay stub.
Documentation on additional earnings, like alimony, child support or employment stock options.
A list of all debts, including credit cards, student loans, auto loans, alimony and child support, along with balances and monthly payments.
An inventory of your assets, including bank statements, investment records, retirement accounts, real estate and auto titles.
Bankruptcy discharge papers, if you have had a bankruptcy within the last several years.
In some cases, you may also have to sign an IRS Form 4506-T, which allows the lender to get a transcript of your tax return from the IRS.
Finding the best rates
Finding the best rate starts with doing research on your own. You can quickly compare rates using Bankrate’s refinance rate table, which brings together many lenders to give you a snapshot of who’s offering the best rate.
Our rate tables are updated continuously, so you can be sure these are the most current rates.
The interest rate table above is updated daily, Monday through Friday, to give you the most current rates when refinancing a home loan.